'Light Matter'

Aug 1, 2019

The artist

Since 2011 Stéfane Perraud has conducted research with scientists to question the history of science and technology and to compare its practice with other methods. He is particularly interested in the notions of invisibility and infinitesimal differences.

In this new research, Stéfane will work with the C2N laboratory on the interaction of light and matter. Their approach aims at carrying out a set of laboratory experiments in order to deepen the possible interactions between light and matter, while questioning the philosophical scope of these exchanges and the potential impact on our apprehension to the world.

History, Philosophy, Art and Science of light

The physical history of light is complex. Today we know that it possesses both corpuscular and wave natures. This physical duality introduced by De Broglie is hardly apprehensive in the field of the visible. The wish of the artist is to go to the other side of the mirror to reveal all the physical richness of this ubiquitous phenomenon.

Material proposal for the first draft; copper wire, micro membrane, optic fibre

The philosophical and aesthetic beauty of this duality that challenges both space and time can be linked to the Roman god Janus. Being two-headed, he is considered, by some experts, as the etymological equal of the god Chronos. He is abstracted from time because he lives in both the past and the future.

Every object, because of various sources of fluctuations within its environment, is in motion. Because of their size, nanoscale objects are much more sensitive to these fluctuations in various frequency ranges including those audible by the human ear. However, the question of measuring these displacements, smaller than a nanometer, is difficult to address. In order to be able to read and measure them, it is helpful to use light. However, the light sent on the object impacts, in turn, the displacement of the latter. This causes an interaction between light and movement. In fact, beyond the simple reading of these vibrations, their control by the light is another possibility. This field of research combining light and vibration of objects, called optomechanics, has as one of its main objectives to reach a regime where quantum fluctuations dominate.

The researcher

Prof. Rémy Braive is leading the efforts of C2N laboratory of CNRS in the research network HOT (Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies) [include link: http://hot-fetpro.eu] working in strong collaboration with Thales Research & Technology to implement optomechanically-driven on-chip microwave oscillators with high spectral purity based on photonic crystal nano-optomechanical resonators. This work is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732894 (FET-Proactive HOT).

Rémy focuses on the use of light for the sensitive reading and fine control of the motion of nano-structured membranes. In Rémy’s laboratory, the membranes studied make it possible to reach very high frequencies (in the gigahertz range), with a very strong interaction between this vibration and light. These objects thus make it possible to envisage applications in fields as diverse as clocks and navigation instruments.

Rémy Braive

Picture from a screen at the lab in Saclay, Nano scale from a Rémy Braive team's work

Combining Art and Science

Made possible by the VERTIGO project, our art and science research project uses the fundamental principles of optomechanics. By using both the concepts and iconic elements of the field of optomechanics such as suspended membranes, this art and science research project is directly connected to research developed within the laboratory.

In addition, this project will be hosted in the C2N laboratory, itself a newcomer in the landscape of Paris-Saclay University, having arrived to the scene in September 2018. This places itself firmly in the context of the introduction to the artistic heritage of this new laboratory. Beyond the scientific participation of the C2N laboratory within Paris-Saclay University, this art and science project is also part of its nascent but active participation in the cultural life of the campus.

This project is resolutely innovative because for the first time two new concepts in optomechanics are emerging out of the laboratory through an artistic work. These concepts are at the heart of a large number of recent major scientific advances in very distinct scientific fields such as astrophysics, with the detection of gravitational waves (Nobel Prize in Physics 2017), as well as quantum mechanics.

The project is also strongly anchored in the use of nano-structuring technology, available at Paris-Saclay University with the presence of the C2N laboratory. These state-of-the-art nanoscale structuring techniques are at the heart of recent advances in optomechanics and are therefore indispensable for the implementation of these concepts in the laboratory.

Light, matter and vibration

This project has the originality to resonate with vastly different scientific fields studied at Paris-Saclay University such as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and nanosciences, which are the sources of much wonder across society.

This work is also original in that it serves to highlight phenomena almost invisible to the naked eye, both in the domain of the almost infinitely small and that of the unimaginably large. It will certainly be a place of questioning and reflection around the foundations of the interaction between light, matter and vibration.

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VERTIGO is funded under the H2020 European STARTS initiative, innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS. STARTS promotes the arts as catalysts for efficient conversion of science and technology knowledge into products, services, and processes.